Monday, 24 September 2012

A week in sunny Spain


 Last week we returned to our flat in Spain, as we have been doing twice a year for a while now.  The only major downer was that the letting agency had laundered all the curtains, and whoever had rehung them had very little idea of what to do.  It took us the best part of a day (spread over two days, of course) to rehang them all and make the place look half-way decent.

The first wildlife we noticed were Monk Parakeets, which we've not had before.  I gather they've been on the Costa del Sol for a while, but we've not had them in our garden.  Pretty, noisy birds.

Once we'd got the flat vaguely decent, we went into Fuengirola to visit the Biopark, which we'd discovered in March and liked.  This visit was much the same, though we went in the reverse direction so as to see a few exhibits we'd missed the previous time.

We started with lunch of an enormous chicken caesar salad and a small beer, it being over 30°C outside.

We were particularly taken with these exquisite squirrels, though I can't remember where they came from.    Indonesia, perhaps.  As before, we were very impressed by much of the detail.  All the enclosures are conventionally built, but then the brickwork, or whatever it was, was coated with wire mesh and spray concreted, before artists finished the surface to look like rocks, tree, etc.  The 'rocks' the squirrel is on is entirely artificial, made to look like rock. And it does.

We were also just as unhappy as last time at the big cat, great ape and meercat enclosures, all of which struck us as far too small.
On Thursday we were looking for a small nature reserve near Málaga, which we failed to find, but Jenny did spot an icon on the map for a botanical garden a few kilometres north of the city, so we headed there for lunch.

La Concepción, Jardín Botánico-Histórico is an absolute gem.  We spent the whole afternoon there and saw about a quarter of it, if that, but we were completely blown away by it.  So late in the season there wasn't that much colour, but the range of greens and textures, and the interesting planting meant you could surely walk around there in the dead of winter and still have a fantastic time.  Highly  recommended.

I loved this little female figurine, entitled, assuming I've translated correctly, the Fountain of Life.

The garden originally belonged to the Marquis of Loring and were used to grow lemons which they exported all over Europe.  The Marquis and Marchioness created the gardens which was bought by the city of Málaga in 1991, restored and then opened to the public in 1994.

After an idle day on Friday, we went to another new find.  Jenny had taken her laptop as there were a few work-related things she needed to do, so I looked up birding on the Costa del Pensionistas and found a site describing the National Park of El Torcal just south of Antequera, an hour's drive away, as being worth a look.  I have to say, that although I don't like their website, the park itself was fantastic.

There are two circular walks you can do, and we just did the short one, partly because it was so hot, but partly also because we wanted to save the longer one for another visit.

We saw Egyptian vultures, black redstarts and I think a blue rock thrush, as well as quite a few other birds that were either so familiar as to not comment on or seen too fleetingly to be able to identify.  Especially as I'd lost Jenny's bird book.

Yesterday we washed all the linen we'd used, tidied the flat up a bit and got to the airport around 7pm.  After dropping our bags and going through security, we were disappointed to find the eating facilities rather limited.  We passed what might have been an restaurant, but was rather full, then found ourselves at a bar selling burgers.  We are not great burger fans, but had some anyway, and did not enjoy them much.  The red wine was pretty pricey, too.

Still, the flight landed more or less on time at 11.15 at Southend, despite being late taking off.  Southend is such a micro-airport we were through it in no time and home by 1am.  We had a glass of red while we settled back in, so were still a bit sleepy this morning!



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